Interviews from the Elvis archives, and new ones with Gordon Stoker of The Jordanaires (Elvis’ backup singers) and Elvis friends (aka, Memphis Mafia) Jerry Schilling and Patty Parry. Produced by Paul Chuffo and Joshua Jackson of Joyride Media, for the Sony Elvis 75 project, which has more music and interviews. Also check Joyride’s other Elvis hours: The Early Years, In Memphis, and He Touched Me- Elvis Gospel Music.
Chuck Denault is a Police Officer for the small town of Kittery, Maine. He has two passions;: Serving the community he lives in and being the best possible Elvis Impersonator he can be. In April of 2003 the producer went for a squad car ride-along for some behind the scenes aspects of law enforcement and Elvis.
The IED explosion happened in the morning, 1200yards from where I was walking to get a breakfast falafel at the police station. The boom was deep, not like fireworks from the sky, but a percussion from the ground, the earth wounded for a moment, insulted. I could not control an ‘oof’ as air was punched lightly out of me. Gunfire followed, the Iraqi Police firing into the air to disperse crowds and let them know they’re there — security?
Iraqi police and American MP’s had been up all night in preparation for a Shiite Pilgrimage called Ashura. Boom. Not allowed to be practiced under Saddam, the devout whip and cut themselves in observance, faces covered in blood, white shirts crimson with the owner’s blood, of the very devout, when things go right.
The explosion was near a Mosque on the route. I had walked that route at 3am with soldiers, either we missed it or it was planted after us, I like to think it was planted after we passed, can take only 1.3min to place, Iraqi police are known to sleep at their posts. Some of the devout are now dead in a deep disruption of earth, air and peace; many are covered in blood, not by their own hands, maybe not their own blood.
The devout bleed, the devout weep.
Back at the station, wearing my armor because I still want to get breakfast, Iraqi Police, knowing I’m there to take photos, “Want photo?” one asks, making a contorted dead face, “go hospital, many photo,” he is smiling, I don’t know why.
I’m sorry, I wish I had seen the bomb on our patrol, it was near a bridge, it was dark, I remember the bridge, I feared walking under it, bridges are where bad things happen, I didn’t look for bombs, it’s not my job, I don’t know what to look for, I am not trained, I was told to stay near walls, or in the middle of the patrol of soldiers, if the patrol leader holds his hand down in a certain way we were to get on one knee, I did not look for things out of place, I concentrated on not stepping in sewage water seeping from canals, I did not use a flashlight because I didn’t want to be seen by a sniper, instead I fiddled with my recorder, I increased the ISO of my camera, I did not look at the side of the road unless an angry stray dog was threatening, the soldier near me aiming his pistol at it just in case, they protect me, I did not see a bomb, I wish I did, I’m sorry, I’m here to observe but It was dark, I did not see, it may not have been there yet.
Christmas wishes from soldiers at U.S. Army Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Northern Iraq: Sgt. First Class Siatuu Quarterman, Sgt. First Class Claudia Bullard, Staff Sgt. Brian Allen, Specialist Nico Kane, Staff Sgt. Robert Lacome, and Simon Welte.
Embedded with the Chaplin… yes, sounds strange to me too.
Here he is walking to service:
Two schools: Christmas on the battlefield is best ignored, or fully embraced. Our convoy of MRAPs (Mine Resistant something something’s) and HMMWVs (HighMobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle… aka: Humvees) drove from base to a joint forces outpost to deliver cheer — in this case a large plasma TV for Xbox tournaments. They were glad to see the Chaplin, he came with some promised bibles, they were very happy to see the TV (Tele-vision). Two frozen turkeys started thawing as well.
Wandering around base I found Santa with a shotgun defending a stash of presents sent from the states by organizations and school children who would pee just seeing this Clause. Everyone was peeing themselves laughing, I recorded him: “Merry Christmas Mother F…” He does the gun loading move for the F part. I too get stockings in the spirit of the season for there were far more stockings than troops in this section.
I miss my Grandmother, inside is what she used to get me for Christmas — everything from the pharmacy:
Road and Track magazine
Tin of tobacco chew
Toothbrushes and paste
Oh, how silly I thought. Then I picked-out the toothpaste because I was low. Then the tissues because the desert/pollution sinuses I’ve gone through so many packs already. I keep a pack of handy wipes because they’re so handy and I’m running out, the dust, oh the dust. Sox sure I’m on my feet most of the day. Lastly, I started reading an article in Road and Track about GPS navigators.
A card was at the bottom, drawn by a child, for a class project, tree penned in green, time was spent, an American flag, not colored within the lines, and a penciled letter cut and glued:
Thank You so much for serving for our country and keeping us safe. I appreciate you trying to keep everyone in America safe. Have a great Christmas. I hope you get to have a little celebration of Christmas. May we have peace on earth. From: Julia, Franklyn Elementary.
The other stocking of gifts I gave to an interpreter smoking outside his CHU (Container Housing Unit), just down from mine. In the spirit of giving.
“Merry Christ…” I started. “A gift” I ended. He was very happy, and so was I in the spirit of giving.
Woke up in a palace today, stared-up at huge golden chandeliers dangling from the ornate ceiling of a former palace. Mahmoon Palace or “Birthday” palace. Where Saddam’s birthday was celebrated. Less glamorous at eye-level: I lay on a dusty cot, and my neighbor in a public storage-like plywood cubicles was playing Alvin and the chipmunks Christmas. They had little warning that a reporter was coming, they were told I wanted to cover Christmas stories, I came to the Middle East to avoid it.
The famous balcony, where Saddam fired off his famous gun.
Troops posing outside the Palace bandstand
It’s kind of sad the disrepair here.
Large plasma TV, Xbox, PS2’s, internet terminals. Soldiers play war games, up to 4 at a time, executing their training in play. Boredom is the greatest threat here, complacency is its danger. They are very good warriors, I rarely see their screens turn red with electronic blood.
“People of Wal-Mart” website went viral in the banquet room, for that’s what this huge room was, ultimate of class and luxury, marble marble everywhere. We gathered around to look at the website: “Aw, no way!”s and “Shit, is that a dude? Fuck that!”s and “Hell no!”s, everywhere. One of those came from my lips.
Nice soldier, Joe, likes metal, from California as well. He tells others “man, we grew-up an hour from each other” but light-years. He turned 21 the day before, old enough at last but not a drop to drink. I asked him why he joined: “The health benefits, my wife is on expensive anti-seizure meds.” He loves to talk about weapons–a grenade launcher, I forget the caliber, is his favorite. Weapons weapons everywhere. Not guns, weapons. He pretended to defend me as I got a haircut. Has a 6mo old daughter, took her to Disneyland recently. Old enough.
It takes a while for soldiers to open-up to reporters. I know what they’ve been told about us, but I’m not supposed to know, so I won’t say. I needed an opening. A horror movie was thrown on late last night, a break from the gory video games to just gore. The man who I call dad in my life, his name came up, director of photography “hey, that’s my dad” I said. One mouth fell open. I said I too used to work on horror movies, more looks my way. I was in at last.
It’s “hum-vee” not “hummer”. The former is driven, the latter drives.
Comforts of home. It’s not REAL mountain-dew, it’s called “squiggly-dew” because it’s in Arabic and, the greatest complaint: it uses real sugar cane instead of high-fructose corn syrup. The Sergeant showed me the stash of a yummy caned coffee drink for us old-timers. Pallets of bottled water water everywhere. Tap water comes from the Tigris, never open your mouth while showering, don’t taste history.
Our show host maps get directions to Heaven, in the holy Hindu city of Vrindavan, India. A three story series:
“The Streets of a Holy Hindu City” are reminders that the Hindu faith is everywhere in Vrindavan — countless temples line the streets and pilgrims march in devotion. There is also stark, third-world poverty and suffering. But for the faithful, the city is a manifestation of heaven, here on Earth.
“Pilgrims on the Path of Krishna“, among the stones of ancient temples and bathing pools, march and chant praise to Krishna and his consort, Radha. They touch the holy water of the Yamuna River and walk barefoot down the same paths they believe Krishna himself once trod.
“The Embodiment of Earthly Divinity“, the focus of many worshippers in Vrindavan, is the Sri Radha Raman Temple, where a black stone statue of Krishna sits enshrined and wrapped in saffron robes. Many consider the small stone statue to be Krishna himself.
The producers gather sounds from the streets of their own backyard, the 112 square miles of the borough of Queens, New York, home to the largest mix of immigrants and refugees in the United States. These are people praying in different neighborhoods, in churches, mosques, synagogues, in apartments, at public gatherings and in private moments who come from Togo, China, Haiti, Nigeria, Queens, Romania, even North Carolina. Part of: Crossing the BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a new America.
The producer is in Harvard Square with his aunts, looking for a “side-room”: That’s their word for a place to pray. Five times daily, even when they’re away from home, they perform “namaaz” (nah-MAHZ), their prayer service. They find the direction of Mecca, and a space that, temporarily at least, is sacred. Hammad Ahmed’s piece, was produced for the Say It This Way podcast. A brief glossary for the uninitiated: “qibla” = the direction Muslims face while praying (i.e. towards Mecca), “namaaz” = any of the five daily prayers, “hijab” = Muslim headscarf, “sajdah” = lying prostrate during prayer, “side-room” = a private-or-not-private space that Muslims occupy for prayer when away from home.
A woman’s song on the streets of Taipei, Taiwan, leads the producer to the outskirts of town, to climb the rock steps of the White Temple. There, high in the clouds, one hundred voices are singing a salutation to the Buddha.
[“Iraq: Christmas 2009“: observations, images and sounds from Iraq, Christmas 2009, a series of posts by Jake Warga.]
Oh the things I’ve seen.
I shall never complain about long lay-overs again.
I have flown in a C-17 transport.
I shall never complain again of uncomfortable seats again.
I have ridden in the belly of a Stryker.
What do you get when you stick a public radio guy with a Fox TV crew in the back of a Black Hawk for a multiple re-fuel hop up to Northern Iraq?
A bumpy ride.
I saw an injured dove in Baghdad trying to be nursed back to health on a blast wall away from cats. It had a saucer of water and feed, don’t know who put it there. I saw a dead dove come evening.
I got a serious cold sleeping in a 20-man tent during a thunder storm, closest I’ve come to being attacked.
I have yet to meet someone who wants to be here. I have met some wonderful people.
For lunch the other day I had crab legs, the desert bar is endless, burger king is everywhere. Where else in Arabia can I eat bacon and watch Fox TV on flat screens throughout a mess hall?
Ugandans hired by KBR guard entrances to buildings on bases, the Peruvians have the evening shift. They look at my passport, I don’t think they know what they’re looking for.
A papier-mâché Mount Rushmore and Statue of Liberty are in the DFAC (Dining FACility). Pakistanis do the dishes. You’re not allowed to bring bags into facilities or wear a hat, but you are required to have a weapon. I am unarmed. I know now the difference between an M16 rifle and an M4 Carbine. Both are 5.56 Caliber, I don’t know what that means but I was given a pamphlet.
The military is run by acronyms. I’m staying in an LSA (Life Support Area).
It’s almost encouraged to have a bad hair cut, in this I feel at home.
I go next to JCC in Tikrit with PSD (Joint Coordination Center…Personal Security Detail), I feel important, I may be a fool. I spend Christmas Embedded with the Chaplin…why not. Here’s what soldiers want for Christmas (4:07):
Black hawk gunner
Dust goes to one lung, trash burns go to the other.
Met a soldier young enough to be my daughter, I become a grandfather when she tells me about her 5yo back home. Everyone dresses the same, it’s confusing, uniformity, conformity, camouflaged in green in a land where there is only brown.
With love from the war on terror. Pictures at Flickr.
The start of this year’s camel racing season is just starting in the United Arab Eremites. In Australia the season ended a few weeks ago. Every year veteran camel trainer and jockey Glenda Sutton competes, and often wins. Photographer Tim Bonham caught up with her in Queensland, at the Boulia Camel Races.
PRI The World is featuring a superb audio-slideshow of the event; photos and audio by producer Tim Bonham, “Camel Jockey- Glenda Sutton” (3:33 mp3):
The producer, at age 2, sings “Silent Night” with her Dad. A woman homesteader remembers brutal North Dakota winters in the 1920s. Blues legend Brownie McGhee describes homemade Christmas presents. Adi Gevins’ father reveals that all New York Santas gain entry through the fire escape. And an Oroville grandfather uses a snow machine to make his plastic Christmas tree even more realistic. Produced for the series A Gathering of Days, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and KQED-San Francisco. Thanks to Adi Gevins, psychiatrist Ray Posie, John Langstaff: creator of Christmas Revels, and the late Peter Allison for the family recordings.
Virtuoso Voices has compiled interviewing tips from pubradio personalities Bob Edwards, Susan Stamberg, Kurt Andersen, Lisa Mullins, John Diliberto, Lynn Neary and others. It’s all in a 25-page Interviewing 3.0 pdf (296KB).
David Schulman’s (of MITOW) thots on interviewing “feng shui” are revalations. Below are some excerpts from “Interviewing Performing Artists… and Others: A Practical Guide”…
Think of it as a conversation and not an interview. If you do an interview, it will likely SOUND like an interview. How do you talk to a friend over a beer? First you LISTEN—and you react to what you’ve heard. If someone tells me something really interesting, I’ll simply say, “Really?” or “No!” Those are little words of encouragement that signal the speaker to continue—and to expand on previous remarks. If your guest is truly confusing, try “Huh?”
Indulge yourself. Ask the question you’ve always wanted to ask. “What’s that lyric about?”
Don’t be afraid to ask the hard question. They aren’t your friends and you don’t have to worry that they won’t like you or walk out. Although occasionally they do.
Don’t be afraid to ask the obvious question. I got this from listening to Terry Gross, who, besides being a probing interviewer, also knows where the good stories are and isn’t afraid to query into known terrain, because a good story is still a good story, even if it’s been heard before. Chances are, most people still don’t know it. Then find a different angle on that story.
Jake Warga takes us on a personal tour through the Holy Land, looking at how the conflict started and what it’s like today between Jerusalem and Bethlehem… between birth and re-birth. (Also a PRX radio story.):
South Africa has been hit hardest with H-I-V/AIDS. Five million people are infected (Avert: SA). One of them, Thembi Ngubane, at nineteen years old, carried a recorder in 2005 to document her life (NPR | PRX). Produced by Joe Richman, edited by Debra George and Ben Shapiro; more of Thembi’s story, with an audio-visual gallery, is at AIDSdiary.org.
“Day without Art” (5:02) Barrett Golding
December 1st is World AIDS Day. In the arts community it also had this other name, DWA.
Poet Kwame Dawes travels his native Jamaica talking about HIV/AIDS. This is part of the hour-program “Live Hope Love: HIV/AIDS in Jamaica” (PRX) Support came from the MAC AIDS Fund, of MAC Cosmetics, and from and PRX, the Public Radio Exchange. Produced by Stephanie Guyer-Stevens and Jack Chance of Outer Voices, for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Their emmy-winning muchomedia website for the project Live Lope Love.
While in Iraq, former U.S. Army Sergeant Matthew McCue witnessed the power and peace-making potential of agriculture. When he returned to the States he worked with the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, and now works at the French Garden Farm near Sebastopol. Says McCue: “I still want to make the world a better place. I think i can do more good with a shovel than with an M-16.” McCue worked with the Farmer-Veteran Coalition and the French Garden Farm in Sebastopol CA, This story was originally produced for the SpeakeasyDC Storycast.
This former National Guard Specialist has “surrendered the force that I carry, the weapon to those elected officials chosen by the American people.” She hopes the people inform themselves and choose wisely.
“Arabic Interrogator” (1:30) Sergeant John McCary
A U.S. Army soldier reports: “When you speak Arabic, you become the interface with the local population — which is 99% of the work in a counter-insurgency.” (McCary is a Truman National Security Project fellow; his January 2009 article in the Washington Quarterly was “The Anbar Awakening: An Alliance of Incentives” –pdf.)
US and Iraqi Special Operations Forces conduct a combat operation inside Sadr city, Baghdad in order to capture known insurgents and terrorists. The operation was conducted on an undisclosed date/time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Army video by: SSG Ryan C. Creel.
From an HV/NPR series: Retired Navy Captain Ed Nicholson is an avid fly-fishermen. He realized fishing would be good therapy for disabled veterans. So he hooked up with Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers, and with private donations and volunteer guides, they began teaching wounded vets, including many amputees, how to fly-fish. Project Healing Waters, now regularly takes vets on these therapeutic fishing outings. These interviews were recorded in 2007 on Virginia’s Rose River Farm.
“Operation Homecoming: Among These Ruins” (3:30) Sergeant Helen Gerhardt
From an HV/NPR series: A Specialist in the Missouri Army National Guard reads from her email to family and friends about her first few days in Iraq, part of the NEA book/writing project Operation Homecoming. Guitar by Jess Atkins. (Read Ms. Gerhardt’s NYTimes article “Modern Love; Back From the Front, With Honor, a Warrior’s Truth”.)
Based on a conversation with Edna Wofford about ESP, dreams and intuition. From the 2003 CD, Mayor of the Tennessee River. Artist David Greenberger of Duplex Planet has been collecting the thoughts, memories and stories from elderly Americans for more than a quarter century.
From birth, a young Native American has been bleeding from his chest. The government keeps him locked in a cell, refusing to heed his uncle’s warnings. A 3D ZBS adaptation of Cherokee writer Craig Strete’s short story from The Bleeding Man and Other Science Fiction Stories.
La Llorona — the weeping woman — is the Mexican equivalent of the bogeyman. The man she loved rejected her, in madness she drowned her children, then herself. Now she roams the night wailing “Aaay, Mis Hijos;” a scary story that keeps children from wandering at night: “La Llorona will get you.”
“I Want to Bite Your Hand” (2:03 excerpt) Gene Moss (MP3J mashup)
Gene Moss’s 1964 Beatles parody mixed w/ SFX by MP3J. Full vers at Mashuptown, “I Want to Bite Your Hand”” (2:50 mp3):
The sounds of a St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball game are combined with the echoes of Scott Joplin’s ragtime and the distinctive calls of Bushy Wushy the Beer Man. This 39-year veteran beer vendor at Busch Stadium, he shares his love for the game, the crowd, and the communal spirit of St. Louis. Commissioned by Continental Harmony, a partnership of America Composers Forum, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the White House Millennium Council. Performed by Equinox Chamber Players, who premiered the work in their hometown of St. Louis.
“National Anthem” (1990 5:01) Gwen Macsai of Re:sound
Our “Home Team” guest host goes to games at her local minor league stadium, in Prince William, Virginia. After hearing the a host of different folk try to sing the Star-Spangled Banner there, she figures she could do better. That’s where the trouble begins.
“Rookie League” (1989 9:41) Barrett Golding
At the Helena Brewers ballpark in Montana, teens and early twenty-somethings get their first, and for most their only, taste of playing of pro baseball.
“Dug-Out” (1993 27:15) Terry Allen
The fictionalized history of two people: a man born in the late 1800s who runs away from home to play baseball, and a woman born in the early 1900s in a half-dugout (a small house partially built into the side of a slope or hill), who grows up to be a piano player and a beautician. Told by Terry Allen, Jo Harvey Allen, and Katie Koontz, with music by Terry Allen. Commissioned in 1993 by New American Radio. (“Radio Memories” self-interview with Terry Allen.)